Experience state parks year round.

Pismo State Beach

Make time for the thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies that flock to this little spot of sunshine at Pismo Beach each year seeking shelter from winter. Monarchs fill the trees and may even flutter all around you. A great experience!

Photo Credit: Susan Taylor

Pismo State Beach

Getting There

Pismo State Beach is located in the town of Oceano off Highway 1. A trolly service provides access to the surrounding community. Ocean Lagoon has wheelchair-accessible fishing.

Things to Do

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... to do these things at Pismo Beach:

  • Watch the monarch butterflies in the grove!
    This park has the largest over-wintering colony of monarch butterflies in the U.S. The “Butterfly Trees” of Pismo Beach are filled with butterflies from late October through February. Thousands of colorful Monarch butterflies cluster in the limbs of Eucalyptus and Monterey Pines in the area, giving the appearance of yellow and orange leaves. Find out more about the butterfly grove.
  • Birding!
    Because there are so many diverse habitats at Pismo State Beach there is always an interesting cross-section of birds to track down and observe. Check out the one mile Guiton Trail that circles around the freshwater lagoon.
  • Check out the native garden.
    Even though it is winter time, a stroll through the Dunes Interpretive Garden and the Chumash Interpretive Demonstration Garden can be fun, beautiful, and informative. Many of the plants are labeled, and education signage also helps.
  • Go on a Docent Walk.
    Check out the schedule for the Docent Led walks and see if you can sign up for one. Also, keep an eye out for special park-related events that are advertised locally.

Where to Stay

There are lots of hotels in nearby Pismo Beach, or drive a little farther to stay in San Luis Obispo.

Trip Tips/Things to See

  • Wear layers! It can be very windy.
  • Visit the Pismo Beach Nature Center and the small but packed Nature Store inside.
  • Explore the town of Pismo Beach for a short break from the stunning state park. It is a short drive away, and well worth it.

Nearby State Parks

Other parks in the area include:

  • Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve
  • Avila State Beach
  • Montaña de Oro State Park

More Resources

Department of Parks and Recreation: Official Park Webpage

Cooperating Association: Central Coast State Parks Association

More Fun Ideas at: Weekend Sherpa



California State Parks Foundation

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